Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Texas Stars PTO Problem; Or The Case for Dallas Stars Organizational Depth

Scott Campbell, a PTO from the ECHL, with the Texas Stars this season (Credit: Portraits by Deena)

The Texas Stars signed a lot of PTO players this season. In all, Texas had more players suit up for a game this season (44) than in any other previous season. When players went down in Dallas or Austin, the cupboard was barer than bare in terms of ECHL or CHL callups. Dallas had just two players on contract in the ECHL this season, neither of which were called up for any games this season. When those injuries happened, Texas had to go the PTO route.

Overall, these seven PTO skaters factored into 55 games for Texas. In those 55 collective games, they had just three points, a goal off the stick of NHL vet Tyler Arnason in the first game of the season, a 7-0 win, and two assists from Brenden Connolly. The same seven players were minus-24, collectively making them the worst "skater" on the team in that category (minus-33 over 76 game season). While it probably wouldn't have been possible for a different setup of callups to completely turn around this season and place Texas into the playoffs, it was definitely a one of many factors contributing to the playoff miss and last-place finish.

It's been a while since the Idaho Steelheads were treated to a true NHL prospect that didn't wear goalie gear. The Boise faithful loved players like Tyler Beskorowany and Richard Bachman. However, there have been truly few players on contracts to Dallas spend significant time in Boise in the past few years. Michael Neal is the one player who has been there for a good period of time, but he is unlikely to be re-signed this summer. Mathieu Tousignant spent 20 games in Idaho in 2009-10.

Now I'm not saying that half the roster needs to be made up of Dallas contracts in the ECHL. That's not really possible even, given the 50 contract limit. What I am saying is that Dallas, and perhaps Texas to an even greater extent, needs to be concerned with making the depth signings.

I'll point to the case of Kael Mouillierat as an example of how such things can slip you by. Mouillierat played only six games for the Texas Stars in 2010-11 but collected two assists and, in my opinion, showed a spark of a lot more. Texas had an opportunity to bring Mouillierat on under an SPC for the 2011-12 season, especially since he had signed with Idaho again for this year. Mouillierat started the season with Idaho, but instead signed an SPC with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers after going there on a PTO.

In Idaho, he was a point per game player at 14-13-27 in 27 games. In Bridgeport, Mouillierat played 44 games, collecting 8-15-23 and a plus-16 rating. While I realize that Bridgeport plays a different system than Texas so some numbers may vary, it has to be said that a stat line of 8-15-23 over 44 games would be much preferred over one that read 1-2-3 over 55 games.

So how does this change? The influx of young talent may be helping this cause this coming season more than anything else. Early numbers show that Texas could have an over-abundance of defensemen. Even without Lukowich or Fortunus re-signing, Texas could be sporting eight of their own. At least one of those will make their way down to Idaho and be a steady callup for Texas throughout the season. That is what was supposed to happen for Jace Coyle and/or Hubert Labrie for most of this season. Coyle's game likely suffered for it; he only made it into 48 games this season, where he probably should have seen ice time every night in Idaho instead.

This problem also gets better if Dallas signs a depth forward or defenseman to an NHL contract for the AHL team. That's sort of beating a dead horse around here at this point. Elite AHL scoring/defense is something this team needs badly to compete and teach the younger players how to be professionals in the league.

Over the next few weeks here, I'm going to break down the MVP and Most Improved Player races, along with my opinions on individual performances for the year. I'll also take an early look at the roster for next season, including best guesses on who is gone and who is staying.

6 comments:

  1. This may be a bit off topic. But could it be that the Stars may be close to ending it's affiliation with Idaho? Given the lack of prospects this season.

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    1. From the indications I have, I don't think that Idaho is close to that. The Steelheads have a great reputation in the ECHL among players and attract talent on their own. They have had many good prospects in recent years; this is just a temporary dry spell. They will surely take a few lean years in terms of prospects for the chance at getting another Bachman or Besko soon.

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  2. The issue plain and simple is two-fold...Dallas didn't have money and/or resources to sign anybody for depth purposes and wouldn't spend the money for it the past couple of years and secondly Scott White is an absolute moron. This is a good, intelligent look you've given into just how important organizational depth is to a successful NHL org. Idaho is an elite ECHL franchise and organization and while I think they understand that it has been lean times for Dallas while they worked on new ownership, Scott White's decisions to sit on players like Coyle/Labrie/Schultz who would have benifitted greatly from consistant ice playing in all situations, in a great setting in Idaho, is inexcusable. I've heard that travel expenditures getting players back and forth played a role, but with every decision, there is a consequence. Some of these decisions have set Dallas/Texas back a few years in developement and depth for sure in my opinion. Those of you who think that Allen or Texas in the CHL are the answer for affiliation issues due to proximity are sadly mistaken. The CHL is an inferior league with inferior players (sorry CHL fans, it's true). Sure there are 1 or 2 guys that can play on each team, but developing any kind of young talent in that league is a waste, there simply isn't the depth to surround them with that will make them better than playing in the ECHL game in and game out. Texas and Idaho both at the mercy of the big club and where it goes as an org from here. Idaho has had ZERO prospect to "develope"..those that came down, flourished.. And I mean flourished..Look at historically what they've done numbers wise when sent down..Wandell, Wathier, Crombeen, Gazdic, Clune, Ellis, Bachman, Besko have all gone on to the NHL or been awfully close at some point. Tousignant, Schultz, Labrie, Coyle, from this year and last played well in Idaho and benefitted and became better, I guarantee it. I think it's Idaho that may need to start looking at a different affiliation unless Dallas get's it in gear and Scott White somehow smartens up..He missed the boat on Mouillerat, Oleksy, Klassen this year for sure..Hauswirth was SOOO bad, Idaho left him off their playoff roster..Neal is another story..drafted and signed I'm sure because of his last name, he had like 8 pts in the OHL the year Dallas drafted him. He's apparently played his best hockey this year but from everything I've heard, he is simply to slow for the AHL game.. Great insight regarding PTO's though, well done..

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    1. This is a great comment. Extremely well thought out. I agree with missing the boat on Oleksy and Klassen as well. Klassen was even in camp for Texas.

      Again, I'm not sure about the affiliation. Idaho is definitely an elite ECHL club and miles ahead of the CHL.

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    2. Neal has a future at the AHL level, just not as a top-6 guy. The radio guy in Idaho would always mention the fact that Neal was one of the best PK forwards in the conference and he's still just 22-23 years old.

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    3. Neal could be a great AHL player *in another org*. I think Dallas will let him go and he will have success somewhere else in the A.

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